Speech by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment, at SHATEC Hospitality Conference 2023, on 24 March 2023
Mr Lim Boon Kwee, Chief Executive Officer of SHATEC
Ms Ng Mien Yi, Jeanne, Director, SHATEC Board and Director, The Fullerton Hotels and Resorts
Ladies and gentlemen
1 Good morning, everyone. I am happy to join all of you today for the fifth SHATEC Hospitality Conference.
2 I know that the hospitality sector is busy now, which a good thing. I saw a lot of guests at the Peppermint restaurant when I walked past. Coming out of COVID-19, that makes me happy for the industry. I also know that the industry is facing a lot of challenges, particularly manpower. Thank you for being here for the conference.
3 Sustainability is no longer a buzzword in the hospitality scene. It may have been just a buzzword in the past, but today, it is becoming a core value driving the industry. Earlier this month, in Parliament, my Ministry spoke on our key initiatives to build Singapore into a green, liveable, and climate-resilient home for all. Let me share how we are working closely with the hotel industry to achieve this.
Commitment to our Singapore Green Plan 2030
4 First, we remain strongly committed to our Singapore Green Plan 2030. Singapore has recently been certified as a sustainable destination based on the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC)’s Destination Criteria. This is a commendable achievement which reflects Singapore’s collective efforts across the public and private sectors and our commitment towards becoming a sustainable urban destination.
5 With this certification, I urge hospitality organisations to press on with and step up their contributions towards sustainable tourism. For instance, many Singapore hotels have incorporated sustainable features into their design, such as adopting water conservation practices like water recycling. This is a win-win as hotels can save on water bills, increase their long-term competitiveness, and at the same time, help to strengthen Singapore’s water resilience.
6 Resorts World Sentosa (RWS), for example, has adopted various water conservation practices which reduced its total potable water consumption by 55 per cent in 2022, compared to 2015. One of their water-saving measures is to offer a waterless car wash service by Shiokr (pronounced ‘shiok-er’). With this service, the amount of water used to wash a car drops from about 200 litres to less than a litre. RWS has also diversified 51 per cent of its water supply through four alternative water sources. These sources are: 15 per cent NEWater, 8 per cent rainwater, 27 per cent seawater, and 1 per cent reclaimed water . Through this strategy, RWS makes every drop count and reuses each drop of water more than once wherever possible. In addition, the resort recently obtained funding under PUB’s Water Efficiency Fund to undertake a water audit to identify further water conservation opportunities.
7 To support and encourage the industry to spearhead sustainability initiatives, hotels are invited to tap on the $50 million SG Eco Fund. The SG Eco Fund was launched in November 2020 to support ground-up solutions for a greener and more sustainable Singapore. I am pleased that several projects from the hospitality industry have been awarded funding under the SG Eco Fund’s third grant call.
8 Please let me share two such projects. SHATEC set up an outdoor garden in its school to engage and educate students and the community on food sustainability, and conduct community workshops on producing nutritional dishes with local produce. Another successful SG Eco Fund applicant, PARKROYAL on Beach Road, organised a food rescue programme at the hotel. The programme involves training and deploying food rescue volunteers to save and redistribute unsold food on its premises. The hotel also engaged the Jalan Besar community on food waste issues in their neighbourhood through both an online forum and a physical event. I encourage more hospitality organisations to tap on future grant calls for the SG Eco Fund to steward your own sustainability projects.
Towards a Circular Hospitality Industry
9 Second, food waste is one of the biggest waste streams in Singapore. In 2021, Singapore generated around 817,000 tonnes of food waste, which is equivalent to each individual discarding about two bowls of food per day. Given that commercial and industrial premises account for approximately 40 per cent of total food waste generated in Singapore, there is great potential for hospitality organisations to make a significant contribution here. This can in turn increase hotels’ resource efficiency and their bottom line.
10 I am pleased to learn that the Urban Farm at PARKROYAL Collection Marina Bay meets 20 per cent of the hotel’s requirements. This means that the fruits, vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers grown at the Urban Farm are used in the hotel’s restaurants, bars, and spa. For example, the hotel uses edible flowers in its seafood and crab salad, as well as cucumber and chilli from the farm in its chicken rice. These dishes will be served later. I visited the farm before the conference and learnt that over 60 varieties are grown right here at the hotel! The hotel has also hosted culinary students from various institutions including SHATEC at the Urban Farm. Through such tours, the hotel shares with the students how the restaurant’s seasonal menu is aligned with what is grown on the farm. By only growing what it needs, the hotel not only reduces food waste, but also minimises carbon emissions that would have otherwise been generated through the transportation of food from other countries.
11 The National Environment Agency (NEA) has partnered the Singapore Hotel Association to reduce waste under the 3R Programme for Hotels. Under this programme, they have developed a guidebook on the steps to reduce, reuse and recycle, and to share best practices and case studies in the industry.
12 The Government has also announced measures to tackle food waste from commercial and industrial premises, including hotels with food and beverage and function areas of more than 3,000 square metres. From next year, the implementation of food waste segregation, treatment, and reporting requirements for new commercial and industrial premises will begin. Requirements for existing buildings will commence progressively from the second half of 2025. The bill on these requirements was passed in Parliament just two days ago.
13 Marina Bay Sands (MBS) is a good example of how hotels are tackling the issue of food waste. MBS leverages tracking solutions to help chefs measure, monitor, and reduce food waste. I understand from some studies that by tracking, it already leads to a reduction in food waste. It has five anaerobic digesters which divert food waste from being incinerated by treating it onsite to become non-potable water for other uses. In addition, MBS is piloting a fully circular processing technology that converts food waste into a high-calorific substrate that may be used as insect feed. I am also heartened to learn that MBS has been working with local food charities to donate unserved food to underprivileged communities. Since 2016, the resort has donated over 58 tonnes of food to support beneficiaries.
14 When it comes to single-use disposables, MBS adopts an E3R strategy. It Eliminates plastic products and packaging, finds Reusable alternatives, Replaces single-use products with quality alternatives, and looks for ways to Recycle even more. Through this strategy, MBS has reduced waste in various areas, including eliminating the use of 27,000 single-use umbrella plastic sleeves annually by using umbrella dryers.
Pursuing ‘30 by 30’ goal with Hotels, Restaurants and the Catering sector
15 Third, I would like to call on the Hotel, Restaurants, and Catering (HoReCa) sector to extend stronger support for local produce. As our local farms build greater capability and capacity for production in support of Singapore’s ‘30 by 30’ goal, they will need the corresponding demand offtake for their produce to encourage them to continue to ramp up their supply.
16 As part of ForwardSG conversations, the agri-food industry, supported by the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) and other government agencies, has come together to form the Alliance for Action (AfA) on Demand Offtake and Consumer Education. The AfA aims to increase the commercial offtake of local agricultural produce and encourage consumers to support local produce. I invite more hospitality industry players to come forward to join the AfA. Together, we can help our local farms thrive and contribute meaningfully to Singapore’s food resilience.
17 Let me conclude. The hospitality industry has been contributing to sustainability in more ways than one, but we have much work ahead of us in our fight against climate change. I invite all of you to make a Green Nation Pledge and make a strong commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship. We hope that everybody will participate and make a pledge to adopt greener practices in the community and in the corporate sector. Our collective actions today will secure a cleaner and greener Singapore for tomorrow. Every effort counts. We can only achieve the net zero emissions goal by 2050 if we all work together.
18 Thank you, and I look forward to the presentations and discussions on sustainability and zero waste.